Out of school and into the job market: What to expect

By Hailey Kurth

As May draws near, NIU is getting ready to push students out of the nest and into the job world.

During the Job Search

Brandon Lagana, Director of Marketing & Information Resource Management for Career Services, said students should begin searching and applying for jobs sooner rather than later. Many employers start interviewing and filling positions throughout the spring semester, Lagana said.

“A great way to begin or continue one’s job and internship search is to be where employers are,” Lagana said.

Megan Gallagly, junior elementary education major, said she plans on working a different summer job and tutoring at school districts she’s already working with in hopes to be connected with a real teaching job down the road.

Donna Schoenfeld, Director of Health Enhancement, said students should know the position descriptions they’re interviewing for. Junior education major Ciara Gant said her parents own their own business, so she is familiar with interviewing techniques.

“I’ll go over the questions that they ask the workers, and I’ll already have them answered in my head for the most part,” Gant said. “I know wherever you go, the questions are pretty much the same.”


Gallagly said she’s familiar with interviews and thinks it’s normal to be a little nervous before an interview. She works out and prays beforehand as a stress-reliever.

When preparing for interviews at schools, Gallagly said she comes up with possible plans she can do with students. She considers what the school would like to see in a teacher.

“I’ll think through my own personal stuff, like what can I give that most people can’t,” Gallagly said.

Schoenfeld said to relieve stress pre-interview, students can do some deep breathing exercises or quiet meditation to “go to a happy place in their mind.” Also, Schoenfeld said even though stress can cause a student to lose their appetite, they should always stay hydrated and eat something so they can perform at their best.

Schoenfeld said students should “absolutely not” consume an energy shot or drink before an interview because they could make a student jittery and unfocused.

When getting dressed, students should remember employers look for candidates who will represent their company in ways they perceive as positive and appropriate along with talent and skills, Lagana said. He said some employers might not be in favor of tattoos, so it’s safest for students to keep any tattoos covered up.

Post Interview

Lagana said employers respond well to candidates who apply first and then follow-up appropriately. Christine Pfau, sophomore physical therapy major, said she has put in an application for a job close to her home and plans on following up by May if they haven’t contacted her, per their request.

Many college students apply at several places, creating the chance of multiple offers. Lagana said employers understand students may be interviewing elsewhere.

“However, once an employer extends an offer to hire you for a position, it will be important to be prepared for considering the offer and knowing how to proceed in ways that will keep your reputation intact,” Lagana said.